How about some real comfort food? Baked ham is one of those beloved foods that works for any occasion—one bite brings you right back to childhood, when all you needed was some yummy, smoky goodness to feel that everything was right with the world.
Ham is already cooked when you purchase it, so all you need to do is decide on your favorite glaze and reheat it. The ease of making this nostalgic centerpiece dish is one of its finest attributes, especially when you smoke it in the Big Green Egg.
Low and slow-smoked meat offers a three-dimensional explosion of flavors. It could be connected to the fact that it’s elemental, and universal. As Korean-American-Southern chef Edward Lee writes in his cookbook, Smoke & Pickles, the appeal spans the continents. “Some say umami is the fifth [taste], in addition to salty, sweet, sour, and bitter,” Lee writes. “I say smoke is the sixth.” And then there are the leftovers...need we say more?
LOW AND SLOW!
The purpose of low and slow cooking and smoking is to allow meat to cook fully, but to avoid burning or drying out the meat in the process. Smoking adds flavor and depth to the meat itself during the cooking process.
Ham comes from the rear leg of the pig and is then salted and dried or smoked. In the 1940s, Harry Hoenselaar invented the spiral-slicing machine. It holds ham while an oscillating blade makes thin cuts into the meat around the bone. Now, precooked spiral ham is a heat-and-serve holiday classic.
Real Hot Chocolate
There’s hot chocolate, and then there’s hot chocolate. Some of us who grew up in the 70s became used to packaged mix with dehydrated marshmallows, which is actually hot cocoa. So, it wasn’t until I was an adult that I discovered real, creamy hot chocolate made from scratch.
What’s the difference between hot cocoa and hot chocolate? Hot cocoa is usually made with cocoa powder, milk and sugar. Hot chocolate is just melted chocolate with milk or cream. Sugar is not added but I have added it into this recipe since I’m using dark chocolate.
It’s very easy to make but requires a little patience to allow the milk to boil without scorching and the chocolate to melt completely. The real secrets are using a whisk and boiling the mixture a second time.
Try some of the flavor tips in the recipe notes. I love mine with crushed peppermint!!
Bourbon Pecan Pie
Nothing says “holiday” like pecan pie. The taste of rich flakey crust, a gooey, sweet pecan filling with a touch of bourbon brings back childhood memories. Maybe not the bourbon part, but you get the idea. It’s a fairly easy pie to make and a big hit with family and friends.
For the crust, I used a recipe that is super close to the crust my Nana used to make. The difference is the egg. I've never added an egg before but I really like it! It’s been a fool-proof crust for me for the last year. Not that Nana’s recipe isn’t close to perfection. This recipe makes two 9-inch crusts but I used all of the dough in the bottom of my pecan pie.
Once you’ve made your pie filling, use pecan halves to make a design on top. I like to start with a cross in the middle and continue to add…like cutting a pizza. You can also start with a circle around the pie’s edge and continue in a circle (spiral) until you reach the middle. Just make sure you have extras on hand. The two cups in the recipe will be in the filling. You do not have to make a design. That’s just something extra.
I used local Georgia grown pecans. Check your own local growers. There are many types of pecans and flavors.
Hang on to any leftover dough. If you have leftover filling, you can make a mini-pie and get a taste before the family gathering. Pie dish sizes vary so I usually have extra.
Nothing like getting together with friends and family for homemade pie and hot coffee.
I could hardly contain myself during this shoot, and yes, I ate this piece when it was over.